Auckland Zoo

It's A Boy! Baby Giraffe Born At Auckland Zoo

11893970_10153106151701984_8230317602288156455_oEarly in the morning on August 21, a baby Rothschild’s Giraffe was born at New Zealand’s Auckland Zoo!

The male calf was born to mother Kiraka and father Zabulu.  This is the second calf for Kiraka and the first male calf to be born at the zoo since 2010.

Photo Credit:  Auckland Zoo

For now, Kiraka and her calf are behind the scenes bonding, but the staff expects them to join the herd in the exhibit soon.

Baby Giraffes are born while the mother is standing, and fall six feet to the ground.  The fall breaks the umbilical cord and induces the newborn to take its first breath.  Mom immediately begins licking her baby, and the calf attempts to stand within the first hour of birth.  Shortly afterward, the calf will begin to nurse.  These instincts are important to a calf's survival in the wild.  If the calf can’t get up and move right away, it could fall prey to hungry hyenas or lions.

Once believed to be plentiful across Africa, Giraffes are now known to be in serious decline.  Of the nine subspecies of Giraffes, two are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature – including the Rothschild’s Giraffe.  Threats come from loss and fragmentation of habitat.  Giraffes have already become extinct in seven African countries.   

‘Otterly’ Adorable Siblings Ready for Adventure

1_11402543_10152936392331984_4305523161385450555_oTwo Asian Small-Clawed Otter pups, born in early March at the Auckland Zoo, are more than eager to be exploring outside their den. ‘Kalaya’, and her brother, ‘Chet’ have been keeping staff and the rest of their otter family on their toes. The adventurous siblings have also jumped right in to swimming lessons. 



4_11165059_10152904754346984_4238219435269671420_oPhoto Credits: Brian Cairns (Image 1); Auckland Zoo (Images 2,3,4) 

The Asian Small-Clawed Otter is the smallest otter species in the world. They are native to mangrove swamps and freshwater wetlands of Bangladesh, Burma, India, southern China, Taiwan, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Their maximum body length, including a twelve-inch tail, is about 28 to 39 inches (70 – 100 cm). Their weight can range from 2.2 to 11.9 lbs (1 – 5.4 kg). The paws are one of its distinctive features, the claws not extending beyond the fleshy end pads of its partially webbed fingers and toes. This feature give the otter a high degree of manual dexterity so it can use its paws to feed on mollusks, crabs and other small aquatic animals.

Asian Small-Clawed Otters are monogamous. The mates can have two litters of one to six pups per year, and the gestation period is about 60 days. The newborn pups are born toothless, practically immobile and eyes closed. The young will remain in their birthing den for the first few weeks, nursing and staying close to mom. They open their eyes after 40 days and are fully weaned at about 14 weeks. They begin swimming at about three months. Young otters will stay with the mother until the next litter is born. The father assists the mother in nest building and food procurement. Otters have a life span, in the wild, of around 11 to 16 years.

Asian Small-Clawed Otters are currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. Their main threats are habitat destruction, hunting and pollution. Unfortunately, their population trend is decreasing, despite being a protected species. 

Auckland Zoo Welcomes 32nd Giraffe Calf


Auckland Zoo is celebrating the arrival of its 32nd Giraffe calf! The six foot female was born to 13-year-old ‘Rukiya’, on April 23rd.



11174714_10152840471931984_1112685336687027331_oPhoto Credits: Auckland Zoo

The new calf is the sixth offspring for 'Rukiya' and 17-year-old dad, ‘Zabulu’.

"Rukiya took about an hour and half to deliver this little one, which is on a par with most Giraffe deliveries. She's such a fantastic mum, we really couldn't ask for better. Her calf was walking within half an hour, and has been suckling well," says Auckland Zoo's Pridelands team leader, Nat Sullivan, who witnessed the birth.

"It was so great to see the birth. Even though I’ve seen many here over the years, to me, it’s still one of the coolest things you can ever experience,” says Nat.

A recent health check by vets confirmed the newborn is in great health.

Keepers will soon be selecting a name for the girl, and mother and calf will be gradually integrated with the rest of their herd in the Giraffe paddocks of the Pridelands area, within the next month. 

The Pridelands exhibit, at the Auckland Zoo, is a walk through area that allows visitors to experience the sights and sounds of native African animals. 

More great pics, below the fold!

Continue reading "Auckland Zoo Welcomes 32nd Giraffe Calf" »

The Pitter-Patter of Fluffy Red Feet


New Zealand’s Auckland Zoo is hearing the pitter-patter of fluffy red feet!  A Red Panda cub born in mid-January is growing fast, and keepers were able to snap a few quick photos during the cub’s recent weigh-ins.



10959635_10152674643801984_6589442166817360413_nPhoto Credit:  Auckland Zoo

At one month old, the little cub weighed about one pound.  Bo, the cub’s mother, appears to be taking good care of her cub, because it increased in weight about 25 percent in one week, adding a quarter-pound.

Cubs stay in the nest until they are about three months old, after which they begin exploring the outside world under mom’s watchful eye.  At about five to six months old, cubs begin weaning from mother’s milk to bamboo and other leaves, berries, bird eggs, and flower blossoms.

Red Pandas are native to China, Nepal, Bhutan, and Myanmar, where they inhabit cool, temperate bamboo forests.  Fewer than 10,000 adult Red Pandas are thought to live in the wild, where they are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

See more photos of the Red Panda cub below.

Continue reading "The Pitter-Patter of Fluffy Red Feet" »

Two Tiny Otters Grow Behind the Scenes at Auckland Zoo

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Great news: two Asian Small-clawed Otter pups were born at Auckland Zoo in New Zealand! The parents are resident otters Jeta and Juno. Because Jeta is a first-time mother, keepers have been carefully making sure that they have as much peace and quiet as possible. 

The pups are just over a month old, and their sex is still unknown at this point. They were weighed last week, and they’re now .97 pounds (440 g) and one pound (461 g). They been growing steadily, putting on about .2 pounds (100 g) a week.

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4 otterPhoto credit: Auckland Zoo

Asian Small-clawed Otters are listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List.  They are found in the countries of India, Indonesia, Vietnam, South China, Malay Peninsula, the Philippines,  living in freshwater streams, rivers, and creeks as well as coastal regions, often near dense foliage. They are the smallest of the world's 13 otter species. 

Auckland Zoo Goes Batty!

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New Zealand's Auckland Zoo is celebrating the successful breeding and rearing of Lesser Short-tailed Bat twins. It's the first time this threatened endemic New Zealand species has ever been bred and hand-reared in a zoo. They are known as Pekapeka in Māori. 

The tiny Short-tailed Bats, a male and a female, were born in mid-November weighing a tiny 4 grams—less than a U.S. nickel!—and are now a healthy adult weight of around 14 grams.

New Zealand Centre for Conservation Medicine (NZCCM)Clinical Services Coordinator Mikaylie Wilson says, "While very rare to produce twins (one pup is usual), their mother had given birth to twins earlier but they did not survive. From this experience, we knew she wasn't able to cope with raising two, so the decision was made to pull the first twin at two days, and then the second at two weeks. The second pup was failing to thrive so we pulled it as well."

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3 batPhoto credit: Ian Fish (1,2) / Auckland Zoo

See a video of the baby bats being cared for:


Wilson, who has experience hand-rearing bats in Australia, set up the program for the bats. She says, "We had a portable incubator that closely mimicked a nursery in the wild, keeping them warm and secure. The temperature of the incubator was at 28-29 degrees, and we were feeding them every four hours."

Mikaylie Wilson cared for the bats for five days straight, before training bird keeper Debs Searchfield started to play mom, feeding and caring for them at home.

Searchfield says, "We were a bit sleep deprived, but it was worth it. It's been such a great success to be part of, it's all very exciting and we've learnt a lot about them. Gaining more husbandry skills, hands-on techniques and knowledge will hopefully help the future of this species and other bats in recovery programs."

The bats' parents are descendants of a population from the Tararua Ranges in the lower North Island. They came from a group that were collected and translocated by the Department of Conservation to Kapiti Island in 2005/6. However, a fungal ear infection meant that this group was not suitable for release and the zoo now displays the only Lesser Short-tailed Bats in captivity.

New Zealand has just two native terrestrial mammals: the Long-tailed Bat and the Short-tailed Bat. Adults use echolocation to navigate and catch prey. Unlike most bats, which catch their prey in the air, the Short-tailed Bat has adapted to ground hunting, and spends lots of time on the forest floor, and folds its wings to use as "front limbs" for scrambling around. They eat insects, fruit, nectar and pollen. The Short-tailed bat is the only pollinator of the rare native plant, thedactylanthus or woodrose. They have a heart rate of 250 to 450 beats per minute while at rest, and 800 beats per minute while flying!

Auckland Zoo Welcomes Red Panda Twins

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Auckland Zoo in New Zealand is celebrating the birth of Nepalese Red Panda twins, two very valuable additions to the international breeding program for this threatened species.

The two cubs were born on January 3, each weighing approximately 100 grams. They are the second and third offspring of four-year-old mum Bo and 13-year-old Sagar, who just over a year ago produced their first-born, male Pabu. Sagar, who was relocated from India's Darjeeling Zoo in 2010, contributes a particularly valuable new bloodline into the Australasian region.

"These births are fantastic news, both for Australasia and for the wider Global Species Management Plan through which Red Panda are managed. We're absolutely delighted Bo has had two healthy cubs and that she's proving once again to be such a confident and attentive mother," says acting Carnivore Team Leader Lauren Booth.

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Photo credits: Auckland Zoo

See video:

"Following Pabu's birth, we've learnt to read Bo's behavior well so we can gauge the best time to check on and weigh the cubs to track their progress, but otherwise remain hands-off. They have now opened their eyes and are moving about in the nest box a little more, and will sometimes 'huff' at us. Their weights have shot up to 403 grams and 423 grams respectively - above average, so we know they're getting plenty to eat, but they still have a lot more growing to do!"

Booth says like one-year-old Pabu, who will relocate to another zoo in Australia within the next six months, the yet-to-be named and sexed cubs will also in time leave Auckland Zoo to contribute to the international breeding program.

"As zoos we work together to ensure genetic diversity is achieved for insurance populations like the Red Panda - which is vital, but it is an insurance policy, not a solution. Increasingly, we're part of conservation efforts in the wild. Auckland Zoo continues to grow its support of Red Panda Network, whose outstanding community education and forest guardianship programs in eastern Nepal (key Red Panda territory) are playing a vital role in helping protect this species that's threatened by habitat loss and poaching."

 See and learn more after the fold!

Continue reading "Auckland Zoo Welcomes Red Panda Twins" »

The Kiwi Hatching Season Begins at Auckland Zoo

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Auckland Zoo's first Kiwi chick has successfully pipped its way through the shell of its egg, officially kicking off this year's Kiwi breeding season. The parents of this yet-to-be-named chick are Two-Toes (Dad) and Binky (Mum) from a private farm in Tanekaha. Tanekaha Community Group is a collection of 20 farms that have been funded by Northland Regional Council to make their farms a safe haven for breeding kiwis. 

From now until March next year, Auckland Zoo's bird team will be working hard incubating, hatching, rearing and releasing Kiwi chicks as part of the BNZ Operation Nest Egg program. The program was started to help increase the survival of Kiwi chicks from wild nests, which are heavily preyed upon by stoats. To date, Auckland Zoo has released 266 kiwi chicks into the wild.

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3 kiwiPhoto credits: Aukland Zoo

Zookeeper Michelle Whybrow filmed the hatching of their second Kiwi chick of the season, also from a Tanekaha farm:


About the size of domestic chickens, Kiwis are flightless birds related to ostriches and emus. These shy, nocturnal birds are found only in New Zealand. All five species of Kiwi are decreasing in number, threatened by loss of habitat and by mammalian predators introduced by humans.  To learn more about the recovery effort coordinated by the BNZ Operation Nest Egg Program, click here

A Speedy Giraffe Delivery at Auckland Zoo

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Auckland Zoo is celebrating the arrival of its 31st giraffe calf:  a 5.5 foot (1.7 m) female, delivered in record time to 12-year-old giraffe mum, Rukiya. The fifth offspring for Rukiya and 13-year-old dad Zabulu was born at 11:10 am on August 3, following a labour of less than three hours - Rukiya's fastest delivery to date.

The yet-to-named calf was standing within half an hour, with experienced mum Rukiya taking it all in her stride as she demonstrated her exceptional mothering skills. This included having her newborn successfully suckle from her the minute it could stand, something keeping staff have not seen at any other giraffe birth.

"Rukiya really took us by surprise this time. She was incredibly relaxed the day before the birth and right up until she started going into labour, and gave us none of the usual and obvious signs she was ready for action.  She also stayed amazingly calm throughout the labour - which was significantly shorter than her others and by far the easiest and most relaxed," says Pridelands keeper, Kathryn McKee, who has been present for all five of Rukiya's births.

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Photo credits: Kathrin Simon / Auckland Zoo

Watch a video of the birth below:


See the rest of the story after the fold.

Continue reading "A Speedy Giraffe Delivery at Auckland Zoo" »

UPDATE! Auckland Zoo's Baby Red Panda Gets a Name

Panda CU

You may have first read about this baby Red Panda from Auckland Zoo HERE on ZooBorns. As a result of a vet check, it was determined that they had a little boy! Born on Christmas Eve, he is the first offspring of three-year-old mom Bo and 12-year-old dad Sagar. He has been healthy and growing at a normal rate. 

The Zoo just wrapped up a naming contest for the cub through Facebook, and the results are in: By an overwhelming majority, the public voted for the name Pabu, which means puff-ball of fluffy.  The other choices had been Nepalese words, since the Red Panda is found in the wild in Nepal. They were: Sundar (meaning beautiful/, Bhushan (adornment), HImal (snow mountain), and Mohan (charming). 


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Panda full
Photo Credit: Auckland Zoo

The IUCN Red List classifies this animal as Vulnerable. It is threatened by illegal hunting and deforestation. Remaining populations are fast becoming fragmented and isolated from each other. It is uncertain how many remain in the wild today, but estimates suggest it may be as low 2500 individuals. There are close to 500 individuals in zoos worldwide.